Category Archives: Festivals & Sabbats

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Curses & Blessings at the Witches’ Sabbat

By | Events, Festivals & Sabbats, Witchcraft & Magic | 7 Comments

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, witches came from miles around to meet in the woods and learn from each other about cursing and warding magic. I remember walking a dense spiral path formed by trees and earth alone, the mossy ground slimy under my feet and covered in mushrooms and the tiniest of toads. I caught the toads and they baptized my hands with their poison. There was a clearing with four stangs in each corner adorned with skulls and antlers, their feet covered in offerings.  It was a place full of genius loci and magical potency, but I spent most of my time on a forest path sitting at the door of the sacred mound of gnome home, offering smoke as well as blood via mosquitoes to the nisse.

I remember cooking in large iron cauldrons over a hot fire under the hot sun and needing to jump in the river to cool off. I remember people feeding me bannock dripping with honey and my fingers bloody from eating a rare cow heart cooked over the flames, the women shouting “Khaleesi!” Words fell out of my mouth and sang a song of henbane; its history, folklore, magical uses, medicinal uses, how to grow it, what to harvest, and preparations for the pleasure of the herb alone. I remember the witches dancing wildly around a bonfire and casting a powerful curse of protection as the sun set and the world grew dark.

As the hour grew late, I remember wearing my floor length red dress and putting on red lipstick, my long dark hair curled from the heat and humidity.  I remember a man sharing the good whiskey with me possibly because of these facts. I remember the hem of my dress dragging across the dirt path as I led the midnight procession of endless people dressed in white into the pitch black of the forest. I led them with no lantern, just my night-seeing eyes and my voice singing a chant of cleansing (strong like the ocean/gentle like rain/river wash my tears away/aphrodite).

We turn right at the crossroad and curve like a snake around sacred groves until we come to a sandy clearing with some stars visible through a clouded sky. The sound of the frogs is so loud it drowns out all other sounds. There is a large fire with a darkly bearded man in black standing next to it holding a large staff and at his feet is a deer hide with a skull, a bird wing, bottles, bowls, and herbs. The people’s eyes widen, but the man is only the firekeeper and steps back into the shadows. To the left of the fire are two large candles struck into the ground, with white and red rose petals on the sand forming an entrance way into an unseen pool of water; all that lays beyond is a heavy darkness. It is called “The Cauldron” and is fed by an underground aquifer. It goes deep.

I briefed everyone before we began the procession. They were to wear white or be naked if they were comfortable doing so. This was to be a purification ritual, a spiritual cleansing. It may seem reverent to some and  playful to others, and it will be both. I told them to focus on a prayer and hold it in their mind when they go in the water and put their heads under. What do they wish to be cleansed of? A curse, an evil eye, an attached spirit, unhealthy thoughts, illness, stress, frustrations, unhappiness, bad experiences… I told them the cleansing may have consequences. It could result in your wish coming true in unexpected ways: a broken relationship or friendship, the loss of a job or living situation… that most people would be fine, but those at major crossroads in their lives may have some fallout. My warning came to pass for some and my heart goes out to them.

At the sandy shore of the Cauldron in the darkness, I loudly called to the directions of east, south, west, north, above and below and asked the spirits of the land to witness and guard our rite. Juniper, Janine, and I cleansed the participants. Janine smudged them with burning sage and the bird wing to purify their spirits. I passed forth a bottle of my blackcurrant mead and had them paw at a jar of raw honey with their hands and lick it off. “For sweetness in life,” I repeated.

Then Juniper and I sprayed their faces and bodies with fine mists of red wine and mead spat from our mouths. We looked at each other for a moment with wicked smiles, turned and sprayed each other head to toe. It sounds cruel, but it is a common folk practice of spiritual cleansing around the world. In Scotland, the healer’s mouth was sacred and their saliva could turn water or alcohol into holy water. Most people laugh, some frown. To be sweet again I had them all dip their hands in a bowl of deliciously scented rose water and white rose petals and anoint themselves with it, rubbing it on their faces and necks… but then after I splashed the remains wickedly all over their feet so they were cleansed from head to toe. I sweetened them and cleansed them so they would feel clean after a hot, humid, and sweaty day, but more so to cleanse them so their human-ness would not offend the spirits of the spring.

How many miles to Babylon?
Three score miles and ten.
Can I get there by candle-light?
Yes, and back again.
If your heels are nimble and light,
You may get there by candle-light.

~ Mother Goose

Divided into three groups, I instruct each to follow the path of rose petals and run into the darkness through the tall candles. I pull my dress over my head and lead the first wave of naked and white-clothed people splashing into the depths of the black water. The water is glorious and pleasurable, perfect. They hold their heads under for six seconds and pray. They come out again and the next wave goes in, and the next until they have all baptized themselves –I’m proud to say: even the ones who were afraid of the water. I look into the darkness with my cat eyes and make sure each person comes back out. I bless them: “May you be cleansed of your curses, your evil eyes, your unwanted spirits, your problems! May you have happiness, prosperity, love, and laughter!” And they laugh with joy and their eyes sparkle. Some of us go back into the water because it is so perfect and the stars are so beautiful and the chorus of frogs is incredible. People linger and hug and then we all slowly walk back into the forest and off to the dreamtime.

I return home recharged and full of joy, feeling ever more the strange and wild witch-like creature I am. Happiness is being in the company of witches and knowing nothing you do or say will upset them because they are the same type of strange creature. I feel blessed to have such a gathering only a blink away from my home and hope you will join us one year to celebrate your own strangeness.

Blessings of the dark and the wild,

Sarah

 


 

Image of the Bonnchere River by D. Gordon E. Robertson.

Links:

The Witches’ Sabbat at Raven’s Knoll

The Witches’ Sabbat Facebook Group

Raven’s Knoll Campground

Raven’s Knoll 2016 Events List

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Scandinavian Midsummer Festival

By | Events, Festivals & Sabbats | 3 Comments

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The local Scandinavian Midsummer Festival is in its 19th year. We attempted to go last year, but it didn’t work out and so were determined to make it this summer solstice. We woke up early with the baby boy and off we went to the Scandinavian Cultural Centre to make it in time for the brunch. We ate, we roamed around through the tents dedicated to each country, we browsed the artisans’ wares, we ate some more, we drank a goodly amount of beer, we watched the young couples warm up for the wife-carrying contest, we listened to music and we watched lovely ladies walk by with handmade flower crowns. I wished to make a flower crown of my own, but the table was filled with ravenous flower-hungry women and I did not wish for an elbow in the eye.

The food was nothing to write home about, there were only pale ales on tap, there were only a few artisans of note, and there was a lot of non-Scandinavian-ness going on, but overall we had a wonderful midsummer’s day. We even ran into my old wonderful Finnish landlord who I miss. Old because he’s no longer our landlord and also beacause he’s a grandpa. We tired out the baby so much that he fell asleep in my arms at the beer garden after many smiles and giggles and then we all fell asleep together on the bed as soon as we came home. The sun and fresh air from the beautiful poplar and birch forest must’ve gotten to us all!

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The highlight of the festival for the Poisoner and I was the Viking Village put on mainly by members of the local An Tir SCA. The people involved lived, ate, worked, and slept in the village for the whole weekend — pretending they were living centuries ago. There were merchants and tradesmen, warriors and weavers, children and babies. The only thing missing was the spiritual aspect, but that may have been to avoid offending the large Christian population in attendance. There was, however, a massive and intricate “maypole” in the main area of the festival wound completely with live ivy and danced around by children at the end of the day.

Crafts and herbsToy axes, a set of wooden blocks for a game of kubb, felted children’s toys, embroidery, a lovely wooden pail, and freshly harvested herbs.

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The carved post of a merchant’s handmade tent.

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A women sits in the centre of the village preparing a stew over an open fire with an assortment of beautiful wooden and cast iron cookware.

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Weavers ply their trade, one with an upright loom and stone weights weaving fabric and another crafting decorative trim with card weaving.

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The weavers laid out a table of naturally dyed wools with the botanicals used to dye them to show how we once coloured our cloth using only things found in nature.

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Weapon porn. Need I say more? There were beautifully painted shields throughout the site – these were simple but lovely.

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There were two metalsmiths working their trade; one stamping the decorative tip to a knife sheath and the other carefully weaving a necklace chain with the finest wire. He had two simple but clever wooden vices that I would love to recreate for my own use.

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Before we headed home I wandered into one of the green spaces to soak up the cooling forest on the warm midsummer day. There was a gentle breeze through the birch and black cottonwood trees, there were bright red elderberries everywhere, and it was deliciously quiet away from all the crowds of people. I thanked the forest for its peace and beauty and then we three headed home.

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The man and I agreed we’d go again next year as the Viking Village and the beer alone were worth it.

Skål!

 

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Feeding Spirits and Bones

By | Animism, Festivals & Sabbats, Witchcraft & Magic | 9 Comments

Witch's Altar

They slept in total darkness for a month, carefully wrapped in soft cloths and furs, hidden away in a box. Quiet and patient spirits inhabiting skulls, bones, feathers, teeth, claws, horns, antlers, stones, fetiches, and a witch’s tools. Then one day light flooded in and gentle hands descended to remove them one by one, laying them out first on a blanket and then arranging the spirits on top of a antique dresser nicknamed “the beast”; a massive, solid wooden creature with hidden drawers, ancient keyholes, and intricate barley twists. Skulls grinned, feathers ruffled, and blessed water shone blue through a holey stone and a silver ring – all on a softly spotted tawny deer hide layered with the fur of a black wolf.

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Witch's Altar

Old Man and Old Woman settled their ancient bones back into the remnants of creatures native to their wild domain, no doubt having missed their shrine and the once regular offerings to be found there. The Moon’s candle was restored to its place above breasts and belly carved from stone, surrounded by offerings. She eats beeswax greedily like blood offerings, leaving nothing behind. A candle lit to welcome the spirits back with sweetest incense burned and fresh water poured to sate their hunger. The spirits sigh happily, the new house sighs like a person with a once empty belly filled. Even breathing feels easier now with the altar and all its spirits in their proper place of reverence.

It feels good, so good to have a place to leave offerings again and to have a piece of the wild in my new home now that I live in the city with the forest much further away. At least here I will be able to have a garden, growing poisons, medicines, and foods once more. I still have seeds from the henbane plants I grew two years ago and we will soon transplant some of the Poisoner’s monkshood roots he’d been growing for five years at his old house.

Witch's Altar

Witch's Altar

Many people have asked me how my magical practice has changed since becoming pregnant. This question confused me at first because I didn’t understand why it should be expected to change… and it hasn’t. Sure, I can’t use my flying ointments for a couple years until I finish breastfeeding, but I can still make my tested and true recipes using practical precautions. I can’t share alcoholic libations with my spirits on the full and dark moons at the moment, but that just means more for them.

I’m still an animist and a folk magician with my simple devotions and rites. I still talk to plants and animals and honour the ancestors. The house still gets cleansed and blessed on full moons. I still dream true dreams. Unfamiliar spirits are still unwelcome in the house and I wear protections when venturing out to protect myself and my little one. The only real change has been temporarily shelving the more intense witchcraft practices as my energy levels are low. I’ve taken a break from hosting rites, bone collecting, and shape-shifting.

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Snowdrops

Life continues on as normal; cooking, cleaning, recycling, grocery shopping, visiting with friends, hosting witches and scholars in my kitchen, crafting flying ointments, packaging orders of ointments and artwork, shipping and more shipping for Black Arts Foundry… The yellow brugmansia and purple datura continue to grow and grow, happily indoors for the winter. The sun shines bringing cold and frost. The clouds come bringing warmth and rain. Green things pop up from black earth, buds slowly form, earthworms slink out of their dark homes on wet days. Imbolc arrives, harbinger of spring to come. The dead must return into the earth for soon all living things will rule once more.

Imbolc Offerings

The fine bone china is brought out and filled with rustic buttered bread, slices of gruyère cheese drizzled with local honey, an egg, and a fragrant sliced apple. A tiny crystal glass is filled with milk for the libation. The offerings are left on the altar overnight for my spirits and the next day are buried in the garden under the yew trees to feed the physical creatures that roam these parts (mainly raccoons, crows, and rats).

Imbolc blessings to you and yours! May the dead return to the underworld without taking the souls of your loved ones, may winter’s icy grip loosen in your region, may buds grow and flowers bloom, and may you be surrounded by love and prosperity.

Slàinte!

Imbolc Offerings

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Snow and Warmth, Darkness and Light

By | Cooking, Festivals & Sabbats, Folk Magic | 4 Comments

You can feel her coming. She’s not subtle. The chill bite in the air hurts your lungs, makes your eyes water, and nips at your bare skin, turning it bright red. Frost and ice cover every green thing and every trace of water. Then a soft grey blanket covers the sky like a gentle reprieve followed by a strange silence and softly falling flakes of pure white snow. Then you know An Cailleach Bheara has arrived. She shakes her grey wool shawl and it snows. She strikes her staff on the ground and everything nearby freezes, frost splaying outward like cracks in ice. Neither benevolent or malevolent, she is a force of nature.

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Holly and Snow

“Why is my face so dark, so dark?
  So dark, oho! so dark, ohee!
Out in all weathers I wander alone
  In the mire, in the cold, ah me!”

~ From the tale “Beira, Queen of Winter

I like to appease the old one-eyed, blue-faced crone when she comes to visit as I figure it’s better to be friends with such a force than to face her icy wrath. She likes whiskey, but her arrival this year surprised me and I had none. A hot cup of honeyed rose congou tea spiked with a good dark rum left on the window sill seemed to work in a pinch. I think it helped to serve it in a tea cup from the lovely Nikiah painted with horned owls sitting in bare branches and a sly fox. The biting cold left the air but the beautiful snow remained. Not enough to cause trouble, but enough to inspire delight in the winter season and make people’s hearts sparkle in anticipation of the winter solstice and christmas.

Tea for Beira

The beautiful snow and my beautiful new kitchen certainly inspired me this December. Since I took the month off from my on-line shop to move house and unpack, I was able to cook and bake and cook some more once the broom was hung by the door and the hearth candle lit. I made wild mushroom soup with bacon and beer, pork tenderloin candied with chocolate-orange port and honey, roasted acorn squash and persimmon soup, beef and chanterelle mushroom pasties, candied pears tossed into salads, roast chicken covered in grainy mustard and bacon, and, of course, the desserts. I baked persimmon spice cake, ginger snaps, chocolate whoopie pies, shortbread, and crafted homemade chocolates of rose petal & vanilla bean, candied ginger & bee pollen, swirled into delectable dark Belgian chocolate.

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Snowy Hawthorns

My belly grew and grew, not from all the rich food, but from my little one growing inside – getting bigger and bigger with only two months left until the baby’s arrival. With morning sickness seemingly behind me I was able to meet with friends, catch up, and exchange gifts. The Poisoner and I had our first dinner guests to spoil and I had a professor and an artist visit to discuss flying ointments, psychoactive herbs as ritual incense, books, and musings on ancient history.

There were farmer’s markets and christmas markets and now we are well stocked with vinegars, syrups, jellies, jams, pickled veggies, herbal teas, and dried wild mushrooms. It warms my hearts to find so many delectable edibles made with wild local plants at the markets – salmonberry, huckleberry blackberry, elderberry, dandelion, Nootka rose, Oregon grape, sea asparagus, and more wild mushrooms than I can name! It was inspiring and many came home with me for the Poisoner and I to cook with.

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December marked the conclusion of The Pagan Bundle project. Many heartfelt thanks to all those who purchased the bundle and to those who donated more than its value. Thanks to you, eight people (all independent self-employed authors, artists, and musicians – including myself), were able to able to enjoy a yuletide season free of financial worry and strain when we’d normally be pinching pennies and unable to visit loves ones. So, from our hearts to yours — Thank You!

Other wonderful things that happened this month included an extended version of my “Breaking Tradition” article and some of my artwork being published in Aeon Sophia Press‘ new Thirteenth Path Journal  (now sold out) as well as an epic interview I took part in with Patrick Bertlein of the awesome and long-running Heathen Harvest Magazine – “Closer to the Garden Once More: An Interview with Sarah Anne Lawless“.

And, if you didn’t hear about it last month, I also did a podcast interview with Chris Orapello (of Infinite and the Beyond fame) on his Down at the Crossroads show. We tackled serious issues within the greater Pagan and magical communities while managing to still have fun at the same time. His podcast features interviews with lots of cool people and I highly recommend it. I had a great time and hope he’ll have me back on in the future for more mischief.

You can listen to the interview here: Episode #39 – Sarah Anne Lawless

Yule Tree

With all the best kinds of chaos going on, all of a sudden the winter solstice was upon us and it was time for the Poisoner and I to celebrate our first Yule living together. There was freshly fallen snow on the ground and covering the beautiful yew trees lining the yard. I brought clippings of fragrant evergreens indoors to decorate our new home and to banish evil spirits and energies: blue spruce, western hemlock covered in tiny cones, noble fir, red cedar, yew, holly, ivy, and bright red firethorn berries. We brought home a little sacrificial Yule tree and, after smudging and thanking it, decorated it with beeswax candles and traditional Scandinavian straw ornaments of suns, hearts, wheat sheafs, and julboks. After the season is over I turn the tree into incense, cookies, syrup, and wood to carve so I don’t feel so bad about not having a live tree.

Evergreens for Yule

We hung our stockings over the fire, both of us having better memories of “opening” stockings over presents from our memories of childhood christmases. And then the morning was upon us. We brewed coffee and tea and then exchanged gifts. Stockings full of chocolate, oranges, and little goodies.  A parcel sent from my parents back at the farm was full of home made preserves of apple butter, apple jelly, peach pit jelly, vinegars, oils, porcini salt, and alder wood smoked salt. There were cooking knives, artist pens and pencils, and illustrated books of Scottish fairy tales. My mother is very talented at putting together beloved gift parcels!

Under the tree were beautiful little calendars for the new year from the lovely Rima Staines and the Old Farmer’s Almanac (one of the most “pagan” calendars I’ve found – especially for the green/kitchen witch). There were gorgeous large yew wood trivets to protect my dining table from hot foods and there was a stack of hunting and foraging cookbooks to be inspired by: Pacific Feast, Whole Larder Love, and Hunt, Gather, Cook by the awesome Hank Shaw. The Poisoner gave me epic gifts of Christian Ratsch’s gigantic and heavy Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants that I’ve been coveting for a while as well as a perfect blue and white beer stein from Germany for me to enjoy my favourite craft beers out of after the baby is born (and hopefully some home made beers too as I gifted the Poisoner a book on brewing!).

Fruits for Feasting

We feasted on goose liver pate spread on oven-crusty bread, apple wood smoked cheddar, pickled cucumbers and turnips, and freshly baked bacon-maple cinnamon buns (oh my goodness!) I made while we surveyed our loot. We ate with our spirits and ancestors and felt our loved ones were close through their cards and gifts even though many were far away. We avoided the big community Yule rituals this year, and thus most of the illnesses going around, and didn’t feel a bit guilty about it! It was a wonderful lazy weekend of feasting and watching movies snuggled with warm blankets in bed.

I hope that whichever day you celebrate the season on, that it was full of family, friends, love, laughter, good food, good drink, and more than a small amount of mischief. A blessed Winter Solstice and a happy New Year to you all!

Now to prepare for Hogmanay

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Of Goblins and Dark Sacrifices

By | Festivals & Sabbats, Witchcraft & Magic | 14 Comments

This year I chose to host a fun, playful ritual to avoid the somber Samhain syndrome we witches are so often afflicted with this time of year. Somberness has a place in ancestor reverence, but I’ve found that at large events near Halloween people tend to come with too much mischief bubbling over to successfully transmute into seriousness. The solution? Host a gathering of dark fairies with plenty of trouble and fun for them to get into …and so the All Hallow’s Goblin Market was born! What is a Goblin Market? A market of all manner of wonders for the dark fairy court and its unsavoury members. The market hall ceiling was decorated with banners of spiders, bats, owls, moons, pumpkins, and papel picado skulls criss-crossing the room. Black cloths covered the tables of vendors and fortune-tellers. Carved pumpkins and lanterns covered every surface and fairy lights wrapped around the darkened hall. There were feast tables covered in treats both savoury and sweet and an altar for the dead and the unseelie fairy court covered in skulls, pumpkins, candles, and flowers. Witches and Pagans came from all over town dressed as goblins, fairies, demons, maenads, monsters and all manner of wights.

Goblin Market Altar

 Samhain, Samhuin, All Hallow’s, All Souls, Hallowe’en, season of bones, season of death… it is not just a time when the veil between worlds thins, but also the time of year when the spirits of the dead are believed to walk the earth with the living. The bones of our dead are metaphorically unearthed as we honour their memory, visit their graves, and leave them offerings. Many pre-Christian and contemporary ancestor-worshipping cultures hold this belief and at this time of the year have rituals to honour their dead as well as to protect from the more dangerous spirits now roaming the world. It is believed that the spirits of the dead rule until the first hint of spring near Imbolc in February. When plants begin to bud and grow, the dead are banished back to the underworld once more and festivals were once held in farewell.

This cycle of belief is also present in European fairy lore where the fey are divided into light and dark courts — the light ruling spring and summer and the dark ruling fall and winter. With the death of the Earth’s greenmantle comes the rise of the unseelie fairy court. Some merely mischievous, some deadly. Pre-Christian Europeans believed that fairies were both nature spirits and spirits of the dead. Offerings of food, milk, and honey were left outdoors to appease them and keep them out of houses. Fires and candles were lit to ward them off and sometimes metal pots were banged as well. Only one’s beloved blood ancestors were allowed inside to share in food and laughter with the family.

Offerings on the Goblin Market Altar

With this in mind, the intent of our ritual was to give offerings to the dead and the dark fey in order to appease them so we may make it through the dark season unharmed. We gathered in front of the altar and I cast a caim of protection around us all using an incantation after which we chanted “horse and hattock, horse and go, horse and pellatis, ho ho!” in order to join the hidden folk in their realm by taking a jumping step inward. We welcomed the dead and the nature spirits who rule this time of year and we all took turns leaving offerings on their altar while singing Sharon Knight’s “Come All Who Hunger” until it was but a whisper. Soon the altar was heaped with pomegrantes, persimmons, apples, oranges, turnips, black grapes, chocolate, tobacco, almonds, chestnuts, stones, cookies, candies, flower petals, a beautiful wild sage smudge wand, and a pixie’s last bottle of fairy whiskey. This part of the ritual was filled with reverence, but that feeling was the stillness in each person’s soul as they kissed, blew on, or whispered words with their offerings.

Fruit and Sage Offerings at the Goblin Market Altar

And then the festivities began. Our bellydancing troupe known as “Bloomin’ Mad” opened with three performances, the first to “Zombie Pirates in Love” where they danced with swords and tried to eat our brains, the second sexier number to Nina Simone’s “I Put A Spell On You“, and the last was a fierce bellydancing battle to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia“. They were followed by our local Pagan band Chalice and Blade, comprised of EcoPriestess Wendy and Mojo of The Wigglian Way, who played their classics well-suited to Samhain as well as three new songs to delight the audience. The entertainment was closed by our resident carnie who sang a ghoulish song about vampire love. Afterward everyone mingled, chatted, bartered with the vendors, told fortunes, and picked away at the feast tables like a hungry murder of crows. To keep them around for the closing ritual instead of turning into pumpkins I devised an evil plot — host a raffle and give away a best costume prize right beforehand. The winners eventually went home happily armed with books of witchery, fairies, and Baba Yaga along with other goodies like chocolate and tarot cards.

What was this closing ritual I speak of? It started off innocently enough with a game of red rover between the light and dark fairies. The light almost won at first, but the dark soon took over by spiralling around and trapping each person who ran over like a deadly snake. Then each side chose a champion, and armed with foam swords they fought a grand duel which ended in them both bloody, but one with a fatal wound. Seb the Shaman won and their prize was to become the scapegoat and human sacrifice for the community. Of course, they weren’t informed of this until after they won the duel lest they try to forfeit or run away (it’s only practical). Seb was seated in front of the altar and everyone came up to them and whispered what they wanted to banish from their lives, whether it be a bad habit, a problem, an illness, or an in-law.

Goblin Market Altar - Boris the cement skull

Afterwards we each grabbed a lantern, the jack-o-lanterns, and all the offerings from the altar and walked in a procession in the dark, in the woods, at the late witching hour. We must’ve been a sight in our costumes with lanterns and pumpkins, singing childhood Hallowe’en songs. We stopped when we came to a quietly murmuring stream in the forest. While Seb whispered all their scapegoat secrets to the stream, the rest of us formed a circle on the ivy-covered ground with the pumpkins and placed all the offerings within it. The last offering to be placed inside was Seb, who was then stabbed by our Queen and fell to a gruesome death surrounded by the glowing faces of jack-o-lanterns. “Dark spirits, accept our offerings and be appeased. Let us go unscathed during your reign and bring us luck, prosperity, and health.” And so we walked away without looking back, carrying our lanterns back to the goblin market to say our farewells and disperse into the foggy night.

Even though the event was light-hearted and playful, the undertones of the rituals were much darker and very much based in real fairy lore. I must say, if the sacrificial victim hadn’t been a professional shaman, I would’ve given them a good smudging and cleansing after so the rite didn’t by some chance continue to affect them. The practice of whispering the banishings to the stream was a bit of sympathetic magic to transfer them from the scapegoat to the stream, leaving the sacrifice cleansed of the duty.

Pumpkins guarding fairy whiskey

Whatever form your own celebrations and protections take, may you have a mischievous and safe Samhain and season of death!

Blessings of the dark and the wild,
Sarah